TripAdvisor has scrapped its controversial new "ratings" system, which allows reviewers to mark hotels, restaurants and attractions without leaving a written review.
The system permitted the website's users, and Facebook members, to award businesses with a mark out of five, but does not require them to justify their decision.
KwikChex, the online reputation management company, which has frequently spoken out against TripAdvisor's methods, described it as "baffling".
Chris Emmins, chief executive of KwikChex, said: "It seems astonishing that at a time when there is rising concern about deception and malice on the web and a growing desire for greater reliability and an end to anonymous bullying, that TripAdvisor should apparently introduce the least diligent system yet and produce greater levels of mistrust and distortion."
Mr Emmins said the company had been contacted by "hundreds" of businesses who were concerned at the new system, and questioned whether the ratings were subject to the same fraud checks that TripAdvisor claims to use when screening reviews.
"This seems to be an extension of the quantity rather than quality model, adding to already existing factors such as the number of ridiculously out of date reviews on the TripAdvisor site," he added. "We estimate around 30 million are of no use for that reason alone, making the statistics quoted so often by them more puffery than real substance."
A spokesperson for TripAdvisor said the feature has been "in development", and was removed last week, following complaints.
"We're always trying to make TripAdvisor even better for both travellers and businesses, and as an innovative tech company we constantly test new features to make the site even more useful," said Emma Shaw, a spokesperson for the website. "We are always open to the results of these tests and have listened to the valuable feedback we have had over the past few days. From this feedback, we recognise we have some work to do to ensure that ratings are as useful as they can be and so we have decided to remove displaying ratings from a business's listing page today."
"Businesses should note that during the test phase, we did not include ratings in the Popularity Index, so their ranking on the site has been unaffected during this test."
TripAdvisor, the world's most visited travel website, has come under close scrutiny in recent years, with hundreds of hoteliers claiming that many of its anonymous reviews are either fake or defamatory.
The UK's Advertising Standards Authority recently ruled that the website can no longer claim all its reviews are "honest", "real" or "trusted".
- The Telegraph, London